Technical Writing ToolBox

A Blog on Technical Writing

Brand Damage due to Bad Translation

Canada Government Immigration department ad in Hindi language having 5 typos (out of 18 words)

Canada Government Immigration department advertisement in Hindi language (Indian language) having 5 typos (out of 18 words)

I love studying in Canada. It’s a land of opportunity.

People in my class, College, and even strangers walking on roads of Canada are helpful (except for few weirdos I often encounter) and even Canadian Government supports many programs that help immigrants to adjust in the Canadian society.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) provides several resources and training programs for immigrant and International students. I remember that CIC website was the most helpful resource when I decided to pursue my higher studies in technical communication in Canada.

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One of the mission statement of CIC is to:

reach out to all Canadians and foster increased intercultural understanding and an integrated society with equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity and religion.

Notice the phrase “reach out to all Canadians”. CIC really does reaches to all people located in Canada. Whenever I use gmail, or yahoo mail, or some other generic website, I often see CIC ads in Indian local languages (I speak two Indian local language: Hindi and Punjabi).

What takes me as a surprise is the sheer number of spelling mistakes in these translated advertisements!

The advertisement shown at top of this page (localized in Hindi) talks about protecting yourself while immigrating to Canada (there are a lot of unfair immigration consultant out there). While the grammar in the message is correct, the spellings are not. In this short advertisement, 28% of the Hindi spellings are incorrect  (5 spelling mistakes in 18 words advertisement) !

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I have used CIC website to gather information about International Student visa when I was in India and I know that it is a very efficient and helpful organization. However, if I were to immigrate to Canada without knowing much about CIC,  would I still consider CIC to be a great organization after seeing this sloppy translation?

Bad translation have always resulted in brand damage. Not just in Canada, but around the world. I have picked few International examples of brand damage which resulted due to bad translation:

Bad Translation Example #1- Pepsi in Taiwan

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” came out as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from dead“. Creepy!

Bad Translation Example #2- KFC in China

In China, the KFC slogan “finger licking good” came out as “eat your fingers off“.

Bad Translation Example #3- Ford in Brazil

In Brazil, Ford’s Pinto weren’t selling much. Only then they realized that Pinto is Brazilian slang for “male genitals“. Ford renamed the car the Corcel but the damage couldn’t be controlled.

What could be the reason of having typos in the CIC advertisement translated to Hindi? Have you ever encountered issues with bad translation at your work?   Leave a comment and let me know.


5 responses to “Brand Damage due to Bad Translation

  1. Pingback: Ludicrous, Hilarious and Sometimes Just Outright Insulting! – By Ingrid Jackson « My Spanish Translator

  2. Pingback: Minister Kennedy and Huffington Post | Canadian Immigration and Medical Inadmissibility

  3. PaulTanja April 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Hi Gurpreet Singh,

    Terrific blog!

  4. cemeng May 23, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Brand Damage due to Bad Translation Technical Writing ToolBox Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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